Editor's note: The following post was moved here during renovation of this forum.
It contains member Amy Crane's Teacher's Background, and her thoughts on Alternatives to "Journaling" for this Rotation.
Joseph in Egypt
Genesis 40:1 - 47:12
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)
Objectives for the rotation - At the end of the rotation, the students will:
- be able to locate Genesis and identify it as the first book in the Bible and the place where the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph can be found.
- Retell the story of how God save Joseph through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams and how Joseph is reconciled with his brothers and reunited with his father.
- Understand how God can use a deed intended for evil to fulfill his promise and purpose.
- Know that God is sovereign over all, evil and good.
- Be able to repeat the memory verse.
Background: Things to think about-
This rotation builds on our previous Rotation: “Joseph and His Brothers.”
Take some time to read the entire Joseph story in the Bible, Genesis 37, 39-50.
Some things to look at and think about as you read the Scripture:
- This rotation’s story resolves Joseph’s dreams from the last rotation. In chapter 41, he is appointed ruler over Egypt. And in 42-44 he is ruling over his brothers and father. Final resolution comes with his revealing his identity in chapter 45. All have bowed down before him.
- In chapter 37, Joseph’s dreams are a gift from God.
- Dreams are prominent in ancient literature. Egyptians loved dreams and their interpretations. Dream interpretation was crucial role. Some were “skilled” in this, such as Pharaoh’s magicians.
- God alone knows the future. Dreams can truly be interpreted only by one to whom God reveals His secrets. Joseph recognized — and acknowledged — his ability to interpret dreams as a gift from God.
- The cup-bearer and baker’s dreams were not important to Joseph and to God’s story except to demonstrate that God is with Joseph and that Joseph has been given the ability to interpret dreams.
- Joseph, with God’s help, not only interprets Pharaoh’s dreams but also shares a plan to deal with the events foretold in the dreams. God’s purpose is not to notify Pharaoh of the coming disaster but to use Joseph to save His people and keep His Covenant.
- Pharaoh chooses the one whom God has already chosen.
- Note that Joseph gets an Egyptian name and wife and probably adopts Egyptian dress as well. So it is not surprising that his brothers do not recognize him. But Joseph does not also adopt the Egyptian gods.
- The brothers generally act as a group. They are mostly undifferentiated except for Judah.
- The brothers are trapped by their deception of their father (chapter 37). They see what happens to them in chapter 43 as God’s punishment. (42: 21, 28) Almost 20 years later, they are still burdened by guilt. Jacob accuses them of taking Simeon and Joseph from him (42:36), further increasing their feelings of being punished for what they did to Joseph long ago.
- The brothers assumed Joseph did not understand them since he was using an interpreter. So he hears them confess their sins (the first step to reconciliation) in 42:23-24.
- Jacob finally sends Benjamin to Egypt. He trust’s God’s (“El Shaddai") mercy. He has more faith than his sons. But his faith is imperfect. (“And if I must bear the anguish of their deaths, then so be it.” 43:14b) He does not send them back empty-handed. They have twice as much money and some of the best products of the land, as well as Benjamin.
- On their second trip to Egypt, Joseph again tests the brothers’ sincerity. (chapter 44) He gives them an “out” — he tells them all are free to return to their father except for Benjamin. They had already once abandoned a favored son. Joseph wants to see if they will take the opportunity to save their own skins and leave this younger favored brother.
- Judah’s moving speech in chapter 44 makes it obvious to Joseph that his brothers have changed their ways and their feelings.
- Joseph’s key speech, which ties in to our memory verse, is found in 45:5b-8. Here Joseph explains God’s sovereign purpose. If not before, Joseph now realizes how he is part of God’s purpose.
- Joseph provides for his family, but actually, it is God who has provided.
- Note how this story parallels the Gospel: the son who was thought to be dead is alive! Only by the power of God is he alive.
- Note that it is Judah that steps forward in 44:18-34 and eloquently offers himself in place of Benjamin. Note that it is Judah that receives Jacob’s blessing in 49:8-12. Note in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:34) that Jesus is descended from Judah.
- God uses man’s sin throughout the story:
- the brothers hatred and jealousy of Joseph,
- Potiphar’s wife’s seduction attempt.
- Through these sins it becomes clear:
- man’s evil designs cannot thwart God’s plans,
- Joseph was tested and did not fail (he was proven and purified),
- man is convicted of guilt and needs forgiveness.
Rethinking Shepherd Time for "Joseph in Egypt"
It seems to me that journaling has become more of a labor lately than a period of introspection. Therefore, I am suggesting that you consider a few alternatives. (Note that Shepherd Time is important and you should still have time with your group the last 10-15 minutes of our hour.)
For any Workshop:
Talk with the group about the good and bad things in their lives. Most don’t have enough distance to see all things working together for good in their lives yet, but most can answer these questions: “What is the best thing that happened to you this week? What is the worst?” Do not require everyone to answer, but before taking any responses, allow a few moments for them to think about the week and then take volunteers. You may want to do good things and then bad things (younger) or good and/or bad together (older). After all who want a chance to talk have responded, pray for the group, for God to work through the good and bad things (named and unnamed, for God knows what is in our hearts) in the coming week.
For the Art Workshop:
The discussion questions look good in the Shepherd Time lesson plan, but instead of having the children write about a time they were sorry, ask for volunteers to talk about things that have happened that they have had to forgive. You may also want to talk about times they have hurt others and need to be forgiven and how it feels when someone does (or does not) forgive you. Spend some time praying for named and unnamed situations.
For the Movie Workshop:
Again, the preliminary discussion questions look good. But instead of having the children write about gifts, talk about them. Especially for younger children, you may need to name some gifts and talk about how they can be used rather than talking about a specific child’s specific gifts. Close with a prayer of thanksgiving for the gifts God has given each of us and asking for God to use us to help others. I also have a word search that talks about gifts that can be used if time permits.
For the Games Workshop:
This would be a good workshop for the first suggestion (“For any workshop")
For the Drama Workshop:
I have a handout that shows scenes from Joseph’s life. Give each child a copy and put each child with a partner (older) or divide them into two groups, one with the Workshop Leader and one with the Shepherd (younger). Have the children take turns retelling about Joseph’s life, using the pictures as reminders of what happened next. Have them take the sheets home and encourage them to tell a parent or one other person the story of Joseph’s life.
I hope these suggestions are helpful.
Material written by Amy Crane for River Community Church
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